Global Politics

We asked Puerto Ricans about their future plans. Many want to stay and rebuild.

Hear directly from some of them, below.

As some Puerto Ricans fill flights to Miami, we asked a handful of people in San Juan their thoughts about leaving their homes for the mainland US. About 3.4 million people live in Puerto Rico, and some will choose to leave the island behind and move permanently.

The House passed a $36.5 billion aid package last week and on Sunday, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricard Rosselló said he expected power to be restored to 95 percent of the island’s electric grid by Dec. 15. Currently, 85 percent of the island is still without electricity.

Most of the people we spoke to responded that they would not leave their families behind but planned to stay and rebuild.

“I'm going to lose people that I have known.”
— Yolanda Prosper, teacher, San Juan resident


"I do have quite a few neighbors that have already gone to Miami, which is where most of them are leaving to. And a lot of them already bought their trip, their one-way trip to Miami and they're just waiting, and the flights have been cancelled. I feel sorry that I'm going to lose people that...that I have known."
“I need to help, and I need to be part of this rebuilding.”
— Gabriel Rodriguez, production and creative director at an advertising agency, San Juan resident


"So I would love to stay, and I wanna stay, at least for...I feel like this: I need to help, and I need to be part of this rebuilding. But at the same time, like professionally, it's going to be like devastating like for my career staying here. It's gonna be terrible because it's gonna be one, two years of doing absolutely nothing with my career. So I would have to rethink myself and do something else. I have no problem with it, but, you know, it's a decision I have to make."
“ ... it's very shocking to see how my island is right now.”
— Maria Olivero, acting public affairs officer at VA Caribbean Healthcare System


"I never lived in the United States, so I stay. And for me, it's very shocking for me to see how my island is right now."
“ ... I can leave no one behind.”
— César Gutiérrez, Marine Corps veteran, San Juan resident


"My kids are here, my family, everybody else, so I can leave no one behind. You know, I need to help them. Still it's going to be a sucky part of it, but I gotta do it."

Produced by Alex Newman; edited by Anna Pratt. Reporting and images by Jasmine Garsd and Andrea Crossan in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Lead image by Carlos Barria/Reuters.

In Global Politics Environment Conflict Across Women's Lives.

Tagged: North America United States Puerto Rico Hurricane Maria.